Opinion by Ronald van Raak
Some questions are very obvious to be asked, but aren’t asked anyway – like the question why Wouter Bos led the conversations to form a new government in 2012.
The former PvdA Minister of Finance became a partner at KPMG after his departure in 2010. It’s a good thing if politicians quickly get a new job after their political career, but I thought this position was remarkable. With this transfer, a lot of sensitive information from the Ministry of Finance came into the hands of this international accountancy firm, which advises companies on how to bend the financial rules.
This kind of information from a former minister is only valuable for a short amount of time because the rules are soon outdated, but in 2012 the KPMG consultant got another opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of the government when he led the formation of the Rutte-Asscher government.
Many (former) politicians have worked at KPMG, including Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (VVD), Eddy van Hijum (CDA) and Rita Verdonk (TON). KPMG also likes to employ former politicians such as former MPs Laetitia Griffith (VVD) and Jolande Sap (GroenLinks), who should supervise the auditor as a supervisory director.
In the other countries of the Kingdom, in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, the connection with politics is even closer. KPMG not only checks the books of the government, but also advises them and is closely involved in public businesses. In Curaçao KPMG engages with almost all government companies, such as the port, oil, healthcare, energy, pensions and telecom. Especially the latter sector is interesting, because telecom company UTS makes illegal gambling possible worldwide – a criminal sector in which billions are laundered, probably also with money from international drug trafficking.
Two years ago I asked extensive questions about the relationship between the accountant KPMG, Curaçao politics and the international gambling mafia, but those parliamentary questions are still not answered, despite my perseverance with the various governments of Curaçao. The publicity that my questions generated at the time did lead to the announcement by telecom company UTS that it would stop facilitating illegal gambling sites – if that actually happened, I do not know. I do know that local media are pressured by KPMG if they dare to report negatively about the company.
The head office of KPMG is located in Amstelveen, where they keep a close eye on the activities in the other countries of the Kingdom. I have asked KPMG in the past for clarification, in particular Commissioners Laetitia Griffith and Jolande Sap, who, as former MPs, should know that my job is to ask questions like this. From the head office, however, there was a deafening silence, except for the denial that KMPG Netherlands would have anything to do with KPMG on Curaçao – a strange point of view, because it’s all KPMG.
Last week the Public Prosecution raided KPMG in Amstelveen, at the same time as a raid at KPMG in Curaçao, because of a case where hundreds of millions of dollars would have been laundered, again in the gambling industry. The invasion was done by a special team that investigates the connection between the gambling mafia and politics on the island. We will have to see what all this will bring. But a multinational who likes to surround himself with former politicians will also have to answer the questions of politicians.
Staying silent about the criminal activities in the Caribbean will not help, the can of worms at KPMG will open anyway.
Ronald van Raak (SP)